When I read True by Erin McCarthy back in July I’ll admit, I wasn’t wowed. Having just come off of a new adult reading high I chalked some of my disappointment up to that (I mean I can’t LOVE everything I read….) Giving McCarthy the benefit of the doubt I continued with the series, promptly requesting Sweet, book two in her True Believers series, as soon as it became available. From Goodreads:
Jessica Sweet thought going away to college would finally make her free of her parents’ constant judgments and insistence she play chastity club role model for their church events, but if anything, the freedom has made her realize she can’t go home and be a hypocrite anymore. Tired of dodging their questions, she stays at school over the summer and lands in an unexpected crash pad: Riley Mann’s house. Sarcastic, cocky, and full of opinions, Riley is also sexy personified with tattoos and biceps earned from working as a roofer all day. Not the right guy for her even if Jessica was looking for a relationship, which she is definitely not. But Jessica knows that Riley hides the burden of having to raise his younger brothers behind that grin and as she helps him get his house in order for a custody hearing, they begin to fall hard for each other, and she is forced to question what she’s hiding herself. Jessica has never had a problem getting naked with a guy, but when it comes to showing Riley how she truly feels inside, her fear of rejection may just ruin the best thing—the best guy—to ever happen to her…
I’m glad that I gave this series a second shot, because Sweet was ten times better than True. I think it’s directly related to the characters. First, let me say that I love when authors write characters that were raised wealthy and then throw them into situations where they have to be frugal/poor. I like seeing how believable an author can be at developing the character, as I think this particular transformation can be difficult to accurately achieve. Jessica Sorensen did it really well with Lila in The Temptation of Lila and Ethan and I can happily say that McCarthy achieves success with Jessica in Sweet!
Jessica was raised in an extremely stringent and hypocritical household, yet she was also raised with the best of everything. She’s never had to worry about money; she’s only had to worry about pleasing parents that are never satisfied with her. Refusing to be the good-girl martyr they expect her to be, she decides to rebel for the summer and work at a steakhouse near college. Needing a place to crash, she winds up at Riley’s house while his brothers are all away. It’s here in his run-down, almost bank-owned home, that she begins to understand life and herself. Her development from start to finish is awesome. Starting out as a bit of a princess, she becomes this fierce tiger, unafraid of going after what (and who) she wants.
And then we have Riley. He’s one of those bad-boy characters that has a heart of gold and kindness you never imagined. He struggles every day to make sure his younger brothers are taken care of and kept out of the child welfare system. Blow after blow keeps threatening to tear him down, but somewhere inside of himself he finds the gumption to keep the battle alive. And when he falls for Jessica…..he falls hard.
I loved the dynamic of their relationship. While they were raised in two different lifestyles, their remarkably similar people: neither of them back down from challenges, they’re both rash, opinionated, and are at times unrelenting. Together they make each other better, stronger. McCarthy definitely hooked me into Sweet, so much so that I’m eagerly awaiting the January release of book three, Believe.
4 out of 5 Stars
Sweet by Erin McCarthy
Penguin Group (2013)
eBook: 232 pages
Special thanks to Penguin Group for my review copy via Netgalley!